Bordeaux and St. Emilion: Sights

I came back from a two-day trip to Bordeaux and St. Emilion. We caught a 6:41AM train from Paris to Bordeaux on Saturday morning and took a bus on Sunday morning to St. Emilion. A day in each place was perfect, if not a bit short. But this mini-escape from my faster-paced life in Paris was the perfect retreat pre-finals.

Since I apparently decided to be a paparazzi, I’ve split the posts into two: one for sights and one for tastes. Enjoy the photos and definitely plan a trip to French wine country if you ever get the chance. It’s one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever visit!

Bordeaux

A future home option

Bordeaux     Bordeaux

Bordeaux

Bordeaux     Bordeaux

Bordeaux

Bordeaux     Bordeaux neo-classical structure

Boredaux

Ruins in Bordeaux

Camo tree

St. Emilion

St. Emilion wall

St. Emilion

St. Emilion “place”

St. Emilion     Vineyard in St. Emilion

St. Emilion

Vineyard with tower

St. Emilion

Our wine tourguide

Winemaker at Chateaux La Fleur Picon

Baby grapes

Baby grapes

Advertisements

Pizza Crust: Healthified

After a winter of hibernating with boeuf bourguignon and toasty baguette with goat cheese, there comes a time where you have to detox.

crust        Crust

My sister and I (much to the dismay of her beef-loving boyfriend) have been on a serious veggie binge. Even though the vegetables are not even at their peak yet, after a winter of nothing, they taste like candy to our deprived taste buds.

Pre-cooked pizza

Veggie-pizza was one of the items on our menu for the week. In lieu of a wheat-heavy pizza crust, I suggested that we stray from the norm and try something I found on Pinterest: “doughless” cauliflower pizza crust.

Pizza

The recipe came from Lauren Conrad’s website and worked really well, though the crust never got too crispy, to my dismay. Next time, I think I’ll used  processed mozzarella in a bag instead of the kind that comes in a ball- I think the liquid from the cheese might have been a factor in the mushy crust. All in all, though this pizza is nothing like a triangular slice you can grab on a New York street, the cauliflower-based crust was the perfect base for pesto and roasted veggies.

*Don’t forget to spray your pan, even if you use aluminum foil like I did. Also, grab a fork and knife, because this crust will not hold up to gravity like a wheat one will!

Recipe via Pinterest courtesy of Lauren Conrad

Pizza

Springtime in Paris

This is the Paris I’ve been waiting for.

springtime in Paris

The weather has taken a beautiful turn, and I find myself making excuses to the long way home just so I can walk though the endless number of parks and gardens in Paris.

springtime in Paris

springtime in Paris

This past weekend, my sister and I were swamped with work and to-do lists, but made some time to go to the Jardin Des Plantes in the 5th. The weather was perfect. I leave a month from yesterday (GULP!), so taking advantage of these beautiful days will be a feat  I will gladly take on.

Me, springtime in Paris

springtime in Paris

“Anyone Can Cook”

Ratatouille came out in the summer of 2007, right before I entered the 9th grade. It was the year my second-oldest sister graduated high school, leaving me alone at our school. I finally was able to break free from being yet another sister from our clan of 3 girls. This gave me the incredible urge to grow up: wear make-up, buy heels, watch PG-13 movies and, if I could sneak them past my mom, R-Rated ones. (This happened close to never.) When my mom and grandma wanted to go see Ratatouille, I thought it seemed too young but reluctantly went to the theater.

Courtesy of Pixar Times

Sitting in the chair, I was transported back like Anton Ego is to a fun, carefree time of being a kid. The movie was the perfect mix of fun for kids and worthwhile plot line for adults. Even though I would have hated to admit it at the time, it quickly became one of my favorite comfort movies. It has remained that way in my family; my mom now makes her ratatouille in the same fanned-out shape as in the movie.

Yesterday was another night dedicated to fending for myself after my sister didn’t have time to show me the ropes. But again, I managed to pull through and made a chausson (turnover) à la ratatouille with mozzarella. I’m finally starting to feel like a grown-up with a life I’ve made for myself here in Paris, and all I can think about is wishing I could go back to the days where my mom paid for my movie ticket to Ratatouille and I knew what the next 5 years of my life had in store for me.

Luckily I had some ratatouille, an instant comfort food, to ease my woes. I followed my sister’s recipe here, but made some changes to make it a bit less of a liquid (you don’t want it seeping through that beautiful pastry crust!).

Chausson à la Ratatouille
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil, separated
salt, to taste
1 eggplant, diced
2 zucchini, diced
400g canned whole peeled tomatoes (break them up with your wooden spoon)
1 tbsp. herbes de Provence
1/2 pre-made puff pastry
4 oz. mozzarella, grated or chopped up
1 egg yolk + some water for egg wash

Ratatouille is basically a matter of chopping of the vegetables, adding the tomatoes, and letting them stew for a while. Then adding some herbs.

Veggies on veggies

Before     After

I used 1/2 of the puff pastry which was enough for 2-3 people to have some chausson. Pile in some of the ratatouille mix, sprinkle on some mozzarella, and close all of the sides by either pinching them, rolling them, making indents with your fork, whatever you fancy.

Piling in the ratatouille

Add the egg wash and bake at 350°F or 180°C for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. I did this in our toaster oven, a larger over might vary in time. Transport yourself back to being a kid, and enjoy!

Before

Before

After

After

Cooked

Slice

Non, je ne regrette rien

It’s not every day that you get to visit geniuses like Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde tomb

Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison tomb

Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf tomb

and Chopin (excuse the video clip, but I had to).

Chopin tomb

It never ceases to amaze me how many  elements fit into the puzzle of Paris’s history. Taking a walk through the Pere Lachaise cemetery was a surreal yet very cool way to experience Paris.

Framed

Walking by all of the tombs you’re greeted with many questions. What did this person do with his or her life? Did they make any discoveries? Did they love?

Eternal love with a kiss on the cheek

Eternal love with a kiss on the cheek

It’s easy to create a story based on certain graves, like this one of a man who died before he turned 25.

Copper

It was strange to take such pleasure in the graves, seeing them as pieces of art when you know that they represent something much more. They represent someone’s entire life, and this is how they chose to be remembered.

White   Dark

Pere Lachaise is a surreal experience, definitely. But a beautiful one nonetheless.

Wideshot

DSCF1625   DSCF1626

Eternal sleep

The Steak Place

Throughout my travels in Europe, I’ve learned something about myself: I have really keen senses.

They transport me back to memories I’d forgotten – smelling trees like the Red Woods we used to visit when I lived in San Francisco, catching a whiff of my mom’s perfume on the bus, or biting into a piece of food that transports me back years ago.

My family first visited Paris when I was in the lower school, and though I remember loving it, the few specific memories I have come from pictures, including the Christmas card photo we took in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

When my sister’s friend came to town and treated us to a beautiful dinner at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte in the 8th arrondissement (the first one of the famous chain as my factual sister pointed out), I had one of these flashbacks. One bite in and I was transported to the memory of eating the meat with my family at least 10 years ago.

The waitress asks you how you like your steak cooked, scribbles it down on your paper tablecloth, and returns with a simple frisée salad with walnuts and the best vinaigrette you’ve ever tasted. Oh and baguette. Always baguette.

steak and fries

Then, you receive a plate of steak with fries, the perfect vehicle for the sauce which is so unbelievable that the recipe is still unknown to outsiders. It’s buttery, herby, creamy, saucey…the list goes on. By the last bite, you’re a bit full, but wish you had just one more bite.

Then comes 4 more pieces of steak and a refill on the fries. Heaven? Heaven.

If you can make room, get a bit of dessert. My pick was the profiteroles.

profiteroles

If you don’t mind being a bit spendy and like a good piece of steak, this place is definitely for you. Come hungry, but expect to stand outside in line for at least 30 mins (even on a Tuesday night).

Le Relais de l’Entrecôte
15 Rue Marbeuf, 8ème Arrondisement

Sunday, Monday, Happy Days

It’s amazing what a bit of good weather will do for your mood. Any stress you feel is momentarily cast aside so you can enjoy a bit of time out in the fresh air soaking up some Vitamin D.

That’s why with the recent weather change in Paris, I’ve been having a hard time staying indoors with the three papers I have to write. As much as I usually put my schoolwork above everything else, it’s only 74 degrees in Paris every so often.

Here are some of my suggestions for what to do on a beautiful Paris day like what we had yesterday and are presumably having for the rest of the week. Enjoy, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Go out and enjoy the sunshine!

  • Paris has numerous parks and gardens – from the Luxembourg Gardens and the Tuileries to Monceau and Buttes Chaumont. You can wander endlessly, then linger in the grass with a picnic of cheese, bread, and wine. The only trouble you’ll run into is trying to find a patch of grass not already taken!
Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens

Parc Montsouris

Parc Montsouris

  • The Place des Vosges in the heart of the Marais (the Jewish quarter) is the perfect place to spend part of your day. After shopping in boutiques, stuffing your face with falafel, or just doing endless walking, the Place des Vosges is the perfect place to put up your feet and relax. It’s been around since Henry IV and Catherine di Medici; with a birthdate like that, it’s got to be worth your while!

IMG_3293

  • “Walks along the Seine” is more than just a lyric from “Our Last Summer” by Abba. Taking a walk along the famous river is the perfect way to spend the day with someone you can talk to for ages. And if you run out of space to walk and still have things to say? Swing around and walk back up the other side! It’s a great way to see numerous tourist spots, too! If you’re looking for something a bit less touristy and a bit more chill, try the Canal Saint Martin for a similar activity with a different vibe.
Seine

Pont des Arts across the Seine, looking onto the Louvre

  • Visit a local market! Paris is covered in open-air markets in all different neighborhoods. From the more famous ones to the ones just around your corner, these markets are a great way to pick up some groceries, talk to some real French artisans, and enjoy the weather.

DSCF0551

  • Lastly, if all you want to do is sit in one place but still enjoy the outside weather, you’re in luck. Sitting outside in Paris is not only a past-time but also a hobby; people watching, eating, drinking, laughing, what could be better?

IMG_3256

Skimming the Surface

I always wish I was better informed. Really, I do. Ask me about pop culture? I can tell you about all of the hot celebrity break-ups/ hook-ups. Ask me about the gun control debate? Oh, hear that? The crickets?

It’s something I’ve tried to change about myself many times. But no matter how many times I set my homepage to the New York Times website or try to follow a current event in the news, I never seem to succeed. That is until Cupcakes and Cashmere showed me something that I am completely obsessed with.

The Skimm is a daily newsletter that summarizes some of the most important things going on in the world. It starts with a quote, recently from figures like Anthony Weiner and Chelsea Clinton, and then goes on to tell you “The Story” and “The Why” (the why being, “Why do I need to Skimm?”). After getting the basic idea of different stories, you can also follow a link to newspaper piece for more information.

The Skimm Screenshot

My favorite part of the email is the “Repeat after me.” They are clever (yet sometimes seemingly impossible) ways to introduce what you’ve learned into everyday conversation. One of my favorites from today? 

“What to say when the barista asks for your name… Anything but Clark Rockefeller. Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a German man who called himself by the Rockefeller name for years, was found guilty of murdering John Sohus, his landlady’s son…”

Cute anecdotes like these and many more are why I eagerly read the email every morning. Sign-up for The Skimm here. It’s one daily email you won’t go deleting from your inbox.

Tea Time in Paris

British culture has always been a shared passion among my family members (see this post for more on my obsession with Downton Abbey and Jane Austen). When I did a Eurotrip with one of my best friends before our freshman year of college, our last stop was London. We went to a proper English tea, and it’s been something I’ve been trying to do in Paris.

Scone and strawberry jam

The weather in Paris has been particularly gross, and the grayer the sky gets, the more my energy level/ attitude are affected. In an effort to get myself out of the apartment for a while, I headed over to Pain et Chocolat, a quaint place I found on Lost in Cheeseland.

Scone and strawberry jam, Pain et Chocolat

There weren’t many people there around 3:00pm, which probably had something to do with the weather and with the awkward timing. But after turning off my phone, I happily sat on the banquette with a book, sipping on a café crème and indulging in a scone and some strawberry jam. It’s as close as I’ve gotten to a proper English tea in Paris, and it satisfied every craving while bettering my lackluster mood.

Coffee, Pain et ChocolatScone and strawberry jam, Pain et Chocolat

Pain et Chocolat around the corner from where I take my classes, but I had never crossed its path. It’s funny how we tend to take the same routes to the same places every day. This little treasure is definitely going to entice me to get myself lost or take the long way home.

Pain et Chocolat
16, avenue de la Motte-Picquet, 75007

Paris Geography Lesson

The other day, my friend was super excited to share something with me: “Did you know that the last two digits in the Paris zip codes is the arrondissement?!” I laughed; of course I knew! That’s HOW I get around in Paris! But apparently, this was newfound information for many other of my friends.

As funny as I thought it was, I realized that there were probably many other things about geography in Paris I didn’t know about. I came home and did a little research. For anyone who has never had to fend for themselves in Paris, here are some basic/ interesting facts about the City of Light:

Paris Geography Lesson